Butterfly the Gnarled

By Amy King Amy King
Into my stomach an explosion of stars
where I rely on myself, my government name, bony letters
of fingers that tunnel your bisected heart, skyward with dark.
Parasites bed my inner lining—
Am I not the rubberized universe?
I am its buffer and get to name things for what they are,
who they serve—what order.
A plural centipede burrows outbound,
crawls the spine of my hand,
tells my pencil to move along, give out lead.
Months of illness do that to a puppet,
gnaw at her strings, place moths on her neighbors,
blend them with gypsies who live the treetops uprooted.
Dare the deliberately happy to butterfly the gnarled roots of life—
That we pass too many pounds of flesh uncut.
Too much genius hermitted in stereo.
The round tables forgetting their bird seed.
Clovers push luck to surround these hollow legs.
Why no windows on the sides of houses?
Why no flames beneath stones that burn?
Why do all minutes lead the blue carp and black eel now?
We’ll be passing through heaven in a split pea shell,
emptied of light, hard as effusive green
ore the blood corrupts daily, within and without.

Amy King, “Butterfly the Gnarled” from I Want to Make You Safe. Copyright © 2011 by Amy King. Reprinted by permission of Litmus Press.

Source: I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press, 2011)

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Poet Amy King

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, The Body, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Amy  King


Raised in Baltimore and Georgia, Amy King earned a BS in English and women’s studies from Towson University, an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, and an MA in poetics from SUNY Buffalo. Her writing, which shows elements of Language poetry, has been influenced by her work with Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe in Buffalo, although she is also drawn to confessional and New York School poets. She has cited César Vallejo, Gertrude . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Body, Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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